Thursday, October 30, 2008

Morgan Memories

Atakapa Beautee

Most of you probably think of me as an Appaloosa fan. Although I consider myself a horse fan in general, of course, I love, and obviously own, an Appy. I owned a part Appaloosa pony as a teen, and my sister always had Appy's, too. However, back in the day, even before Appy's, I was a big fan of Morgan horses.


I have mentioned it in one of my first few posts that I learned to ride on a Morgan mare. She belonged to our neighbor, who gave horseback riding lessons. This woman had gotten the mare as a yearling when she herself was a teen. She raised and trained her herself.

The mare's name was Maggie. She was an old-style Morgan, barely gracing 14.2 hands, very typey, small head and ears and thick neck. She was a golden blood bay shadowed with dark dapples when she shed out in the spring. Her black mane and tail were thick and wavy, and she was built like a sausage. I kid you not. She had no flank indentations at all. Her back was so wide, it was nearly impossible to fall off (we mostly rode her hunt seat.) I suppose this is why she made such a good lesson horse?

WP Winora Knight

My sister and I saved up our allowance and scrape our coins together for riding lessons on Maggie. The neighbor had a small arena with a white-washed fence. Maggie was always tolerable. She was a bit stubborn, for sure, but never did anything dangerous with us.

Kiva Cinnabar

The neighbor dreamed of breeding Maggie, and eventually did. I remember visiting a stable with her to look at a local Morgan stallion that she had chosen as a potential sire. The old man who owned him brought the nearly black-bay out of the barn. The stallion promptly snorted, arched his neck, and pranced around the corral like stallions do. Maggie's owner called out in awe, "Morgan!" He was a nice stallion. I had not seen many stallions in my life at that time, and he was pretty flashy. Maggie was soon in foal and gave birth to a rambunctious bay colt named Robin.

Rum Brook Immortal

I was obsessed with Morgans for many years. Maggie's owner had issues of The Morgan Horse magazine around her house, and I would always borrow and pour over each page of every issue.

I should clarify that I gravitated, and still do, towards the old-style, or foundation bred Morgans (one particular line is known as the Lippitt line.) These horses are more "true" in type. In the Morgan world, after the 1930's, Saddlebreds were often found in the bloodlines of many Morgans, creating a more refined and showy horse for events such as saddle seat and driving. Many modern day Morgans posses more of that "Saddlebred" look. I have nothing against Saddlebreds, but I like Saddlebreds to look like Saddlebreds and my Morgans to look like Morgans of days gone by.

Last summer at a schooling show, My Boy's former owner, a young trainer who now rides and trains at a well-respected Arabian facility, made an interesting comment. We were watching a chestnut horse warm up for a western pleasure class, and discovered that it was a Morgan. The trainer commented,"Oh, that's a Morgan? I thought that was just a really well-bred Arab."

I don't know who this is, just a pretty Morgan head!

It doesn't seem like any breed of horse can escape the controversy that seems to follow it's fans, breeders, exhibitors, and owners. For example, the Appaloosa industry deals with the criticism of Appy's becoming nothing but "spotted Quarter Horses." Ironically, the QH influence is blamed for a lack of color on many of the registered horses. Although many believe the Quarter Horse cross breeding has vastly improved the breed, there are many people out there that specifically breed the original, uncrossed Appaloosa bloodlines, regardless if such horses are born with sparse manes and tails. The Paint industry, although booming in recent years, has also struggled internally with what to do with it's SPB's (Solid Paint Breds, or breeding stock.)

Here are some interesting stats.

Number of horses registered in the following breed associations for 2006:

AQHA (Quarter Horses) : 165,114

APHA (Paints) : 39,357

AHA (Arabians) : 7,003

ApHC (Appaloosas) : 6,749

AMHA (Morgans) 3,461

Some of these breeds do have other registries as well, so these are not completely accurate as to total registered horses in and outside of the U.S. But both Appy and Morgan numbers are not looking so good in comparison to the others. That figures though, as I always seem to root for the underdogs!

My mom's gelding, Dusty, is said to be of Morgan breeding, more specifically, a Morgan/Quarter Horse cross. We don't know for sure and have no way finding out as he was a rescue in his past, so little information was passed on. However, I think his typey head, intelligence, and personality lends itself to Morgan breeding. Actually, I think the Morgan/Quarter horse makes a decent crossbred, as does the Arabian/Quarter horse. But I am getting off subject here, which goodness, I do so well!

As a young teen, I dreamed of breeding Morgans when I "grew up." I think I even had farm names picked out. Later, in my late teens, I had a friend that showed Quarter Horses and she converted me. However, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Morgans and would love to own one someday. Thank you little Maggie May, for teaching me not only about horses and how to ride, but also about the marvelous Morgan!

All photos, except for the one of Maggie and of my Mom's gelding, are of Morgan horses that I liked the "look" of. I have added their names in case anyone wanted to look them up for more information.


  1. Girl you write the most marvelous posts that capture the passion of horses!! BTW, we have an two appy two year olds in our barn who I adore to pieces. I am posting pics of chewy and dooey tomorrow. They are my hubby's pride and joy right now out of all the babies

  2. Thanks for the happy memories. The elderly man who taught me how to tell the difference among mares, geldings, and stallions (I must have been pretty young!) was an old-time Morgan breeder. He let me drive his bay gelding, Black Hawk -- to this day, that's only time I ever drove a horse (from an actual buggy, that is). And, I still remember my first sight of his black stallion, who boasted the ignominious barn name Spud. Ah, the romance!

  3. I agree! I learned to ride on a morgan x clyde! Now THAT was a stocky horse! I always wanted a morab (arab x morgan) and then when I got into QH's I wanted the quarab (arab x QH) or maybe I just liked the combo names. lol... I have found that the look and temperament of Morgans very so much these days. Maybe you could post a full body picture of the kind of Morgan that best represents the type that you prefer? I knew one that looked like a bright red version of the black you have posted. His name was Fire and he was my dreamhorse when I was 13. I like when they look more like the QH but with a nice thick arched neck, baby doll head and square body (with a lighter hind quarter than a QHs.)I LOVE the wave in their manes too.

  4. As a college student in Connecticut in the mid-1970s, I got to compete in the fledgling Intercollegiate Horse Show Assn. We competed against UMass, which meant we got to go there and ride their horses. I always drew one of their beautiful UMass-bred geldings (dark brown, as I recall, or dark bay?) to ride. These guys were part of the very smart UMass drill team...and oh, what a ride. It was worth getting up so early, and driving the many miles to ride one in a class! I've always wanted a Morgan ever since. I see them even here in AK....perhaps, someday...along with the Appy I feel I should have....and the QH....(I am retiring from Thoroughbreds, I think)......thanks for your wonderful ode to Morgans. They are a wonderful American breed with all the right characteristics. I'd like mine to be a driving horse, wouldn't you? (When I get too old to ride.)

  5. I should have said, the UMass horses were Morgans....

  6. I have always been drawn to Appaloosas, specifically the ones that match the descriptions of the original horses ridden in battle by native Americans. To me, that meant under 15hh, sure footed and wiry, light to medium build, sparse mane and tail and SPOTTED.

    When I went to the World show in Fort Worth last year, I was very disappointed at the types of horses I saw. I prefer the QH influence to the TB influence. It seemed like most of the horses were HUGE and solid. IMHO, the judging seemed to favor this type of horse, which made no sense to me.

    To me, a dot of pink on the dock and white sclera do not an Appaloosa make. I guess genetically, it does.

    But what do I know?

  7. The story of the Morgan is a good one, if I remember correctly. Thanks Pony Girl, now I have to go do the research and see if what I think is accurate! ;-)

  8. My first pony was purportedly Morgan/Welsh, and he was a sweetie. I had the opportunity to ride an older Lippitt Morgan named Myron as a lesson horse when I was in college out East - the build of those horses is so impressive. (Myron had the weirdest fear of ducks - lol!)

    The Morgans I've seen since have either looked much like your trainer friend commented, Arabian-y, or as AHCM said, like smaller, more delicately build QHs. I still like the look of the Lippit-style best, but maybe that's just Myron's influence :)

  9. I love my Morgan mare. I had a Morgan gelding, Bill, three years ago. I had to sell him because he was so spooky but he was an excellent horse other than that. My mare has that thick neck and sausage body too! I love to see her move....such beauty and grace.

  10. Did I ever tell you that my Spokane barn was a Morgan barn? I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of Morgans, but there was one there that was the cutest thing you'd ever seen...his registered name was Gigilo but we called him Henry, and he was 4 years old, super modern type, and an absolutely beautiful mover. Kind of a handful, though. Acted more like a 2 year old. And the girl who owned him would be like, "I can't wait until he's more mature, like Skyler." I don't know if I ever bothered to tell her they were the same age... :)

  11. There is really nothing like a good, old fashioned, old style, Morgan...well except for a good, old fashioned, old style!!!
    I am not biased at all now, am I????

    I LOVE the old style Morgans, just not some of the newer, more Arab-like ones. They are a great breed that always seems to be kept on the down-low...wonder why?

  12. I don't care who you are, if you love horses, you just have to love a good representative of any breed.
    I find it so sad to see any breed change dramatically from their original form. So many of the orginals were perfect representatives and yet people felt the need to go in a completely different direction.

    I always loved the delicate heads and thick necks of the original Morgans. But then, I have always loved paintings of the "Baroque" style of horse. Wasn't there a Morgan horse ridden by one of the famous civil war generals?

  13. I enjoyed reading about your love of Morgans. I, too, fell in love with them as a young girl. They do remind me quite a bit of Arabians with something a little different.

    I look forward to reading about future Morgans in your future :)


  14. I've had a few Morgans and they were all really good, honest horses. Thanks for the reminder!

  15. Beautiful post great information! Gorgeous photos! I love Morgans too.

  16. My best friend's siter in law trains Morgans. She is a big time trainer in the Morgan World. She does reining and pleasure classes. She is always super busy. I got to see her Morgans this past Summer and they were beautiful. I never knew how amazing they were.

    Great post, I loved the stats at the end.

  17. Morgan horses are such good all-around horses. As a teen, I saw a lot of Morgan horses at horse shows. My parents were good friends with the Shaws of Walla Walla, whose bloodline of Morgan horses was called, "Shawalla". I remember 2 distinct body types of the horses: 1) was more an Arabian type and 2) was a stockier, mini-draft type. I got to use one of the Shawalla horses for the 4H training school one year. He was a gentle, good natured boy.


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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